Dr Enrico Biffis and Dr Erik Chavez from Imperial College Business School have carried out work to address the issues facing smallholder farmers in Tanzania who lack access to affordable insurance to protect them against the effects of climate change, such as crops failing due to changing weather patterns.

Using machine learning to analyse data such as weather variables, soil characteristics and agricultural practices to determine what ideal crop yields look like, the researchers developed a set of criteria by which a farm’s performance could be judged.

They worked with the World Bank, the World Food Programme, Tanzanian financial institutions and reinsurance company Munich Re, to create a product that combines loans and insurance to help protect smallholder farmers, many of whom lack access to basic financial services, which makes managing unexpected emergencies difficult. The project worked with 50,000 farmers, supporting a total of $13m loans disbursed and overall benefiting 400,000 individuals including household members and agricultural workers.